Best used small cars 2021

  • We list the best used small cars for 2021
  • From city cars to superminis, considering electric purchase too
  • There’s a wide range of efficient used small cars to choose from

Small cars are great. They’re easy to park, quick to clean and cheaper to insure, particularly for newly qualified drivers. Used small cars are even cheaper to buy and insure and, more often than not, repair. This is great for excusing accidental dents and scraps as drivers gain experience and better spacial awareness.

As the world moves towards decarbonisation, small cars, whether city cars or superminis, lend themselves well to electric powertrain adoption too, since they’re ideal for city driving, especially in Ultra-Low Emission Zones (ULEZ).

If you’re a driver that pootles around your local area, as opposed to taking long motorway journeys, a used small car could be just the ticket. However, the differences in the quality of trim levels of small cars can sometimes be stark, which is worth watching out for.

The used car market is great for making an aspirational buy, if you’re keen to have a powerful performance marque without a major lottery win. Here’s a list of the best used small cars in the market today. We’ve included a mix of superminis and city cars.

Click the links below to jump straight to the car you're interested in or just keep scrolling to read the whole article.

Ford Fiesta 

The best fun for drivers who drive

Ford Fiesta

The Ford Fiesta is a long-standing bestseller in the UK. The used small car market has broad choice for this popular small car for those in the market. The Fiesta is at the more competitive end for in-cabin tech, driving performance and fuel economy. What’s more, servicing and insuring the Fiesta is equally wallet-friendly.

While sales of the Vauxhall Corsa might be outpacing it, the Ford Fiesta remains a brilliant purchase for those after punchy response, sharp steering and excellent feedback. The Ford Fiesta sports Ford’s SYNC infotainment system, now into its third iteration. Drivers can connect with Apple Carplay or Android Auto, meaning favourite audio and navigation apps accessed in a safer, handsfree way. 

Find a used Ford Fiesta for sale here

Skoda Fabia 

Positive practicality and driving experience

Skoda Fabia

Though the Skoda Fabia is not the cheapest supermini, the Fabia offers some of the most competitive value-for-money driving. Based largely on the last generation of VW Polo, Skoda has long-since shaken off its ‘shonky’ reputation and replaced it with reliable quality, underpinned by German engineering.

As the 2021 model hits showrooms, the used small car market will see pre-owned Fabia listings increase, so it’s an ideal time to shop for one. The Fabia drives really well, with the turbocharged TSI variant packing a 110 hp punch—provided you can drive a manual car. The sportier feel of the drive and interior, coupled with decent storage and child-friendly kit, will make the Fabia a must-buy.

Find a used Skoda Fabia for sale here

Peugeot 208 

Sporty reputation, great looks

Peugeot 208

The stylish Peugeot 208 is certainly a looker. With a pedigree going back as far as the 1980s, there’s a street appeal to the 208 hatchback that many other small cars will simply never have. Radical styling, a smooth automatic gearbox and a wide choice of powertrains means the 208 gives rivals Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio and VW Polo a run for their money.

The Peugeot 208 is stylish and comfortable inside too. Though entry-level models come suitably specced out with alloys, aircon and cruise control, Allure Premium and GT Line trims will get you a reversing camera and blind spot monitoring, which we’d consider essentials for maintaining residual values. 

Find a used Peugeot 208 for sale here

Skoda Citigo 

Does what you need it to, and does it cheaply

Skoda Citigo

Sister to the VW Up and the Seat Mii, the Citigo is inexpensive to buy and maintain. The three-cylinder engine is not going to take on any Porsches just yet, but it’s pepped enough to feel light and nippy and not at all sluggish. The Citigo also offers excellent fuel economy, often qualifying for low or no road tax.

The interior of the Skoda Citigo is deceptively spacious; roomy enough for four, tall adults—though entry to the three-door version may prove a bit more awkward. It also boasts one of the biggest boots in its class. It’s comfortable and the built-in smartphone mount negates the need to maintain outdated in-cabin tech. 

Find a used Skoda Citigo for sale here

Volkswagen Up 

The ideal balance of comfort, practicality and fun

Volkswagen Up

The Volkswagen Up finds that much sought-after sweet spot between enjoyment, practicality and comfort. Taking on corners like it’s ready to take on the world, the Up is a genuinely fun car to drive, has a neat turning circle and accommodating suspension.

When it comes to small cars, it doesn’t really get smaller than the Volkswagen Up, so VW has done away with a middle rear seat. Four adults fit comfortably, with plenty of legroom and headspace. The interface with VW’s connected infotainment system is fairly intuitive, with a mobile cradle for navigation. The build quality of the UP is superb, and for those seeking electric options, these great features carry into the E-Up too.

Find a used VW Up for sale here

Renault Zoe 

A pure electric choice for unrestricted city driving

Renault Zoe

The friendliest car for ULEZ in this list, the Renault Zoe was one of the first modern electric cars to market. A wonderfully cheap, quiet small car, this Parker’s award winner now boasts a more realistic driving range of 200+ miles, meaning you’re not stuck to staying in the city.

Over time, the styling of the Zoe has been refined to make it truly modern and sporty. The immediate acceleration helps foster this sportiness further, though the suspension is a bit firm. With cruise control and aircon as standard, and in-cabin tech integrating Apple Carplay and Android Auto, the Renault Zoe has much to offer drivers dedicated to make the jump to pure electric.

Find a used Renault Zoe for sale here

Audi A1 Sportback 

A slice of premium for a modest price

Audi A1 Sportback

The Audi A1 is a smart way to realise modest motoring dreams. The A1 in particular offers cracking value-for-money, with engine choices that give great fuel economy. The reputation of the German brand in the racing world means low levels of carbon dioxide emissions from these finessed engines are unsurprising—and perfect for inner city restrictions.

The spaciousness and comfortable of the A1 also makes it ideal for longer journeys. Though franchised dealerships may be a little pricey for servicing, the comfort, style and safety of the Audi A1 makes an affordable premium supermini. Since the A1 pips the Mini Clubman to the post in terms of boot space, the five-door version is also a great choice for families.

Find a used Audi A1 Sportback for sale

Kia Picanto 

Easy - on ownership, your wallet and to drive

Kia Picanto

Renowned for its generous warranty and good quality car builds, Kia has done much to plant previous derision of the brand firmly in the past. The Kia Picanto has stylish looks, a comfortable interior and low running costs. The higher-end trims include a 7.0” infotainment screen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility. If your budget allows, you can level up to heated seats, keyless entry and a reversing camera.

Drive-wise, there’s a wide choice of engines, with the 1.25-litre four-cylinder spec offering a bit poke for motorway jaunts. Sure, the turbocharged 1.0-litre model won’t offer the same level of fuel economy, there’s a lot of fun to be had in a Picanto.

Find a used Kia Picanto for sale here

Further reading